I embrace the fact that not everyone is wired to write. Some of my most favorite people in the entire world would rather spend the afternoon suffering in a dentist’s chair than to put pen to paper. Their giftings are divergent in nature, flourishing elsewhere, and by God’s good design.
But for those of you who find yourself playing with words, turning over sentences, creating mounting paragraphs, carrying index cards in your pocket or on the dashboard or atop your nightstand, texting yourself meaningful phrases or ideas, your mind brimming with childhood memories and stories which spark a seeing of the hand of God in the minutiae, I beckon you to write. Our world needs more Christ-following writers willing to swirl truth with beauty.
Someone asked me recently, if, given the combative nature of current culture, I have considered the need to perhaps soft-pedal my writings, in an effort to avoid controversy.
Absolutely not, I answered, surprising myself.
Writing has made me brave. It has clarified my perspective through the lens of God’s Word, my eternal plumb line, and forced me to wrestle with truth.
Recently, our daughter gifted me with a treasure smaller than a golf ball. It is a miniature typewriter, complete with a piece of tiny paper that reads: Have courage and be kind. It sits perched upon my desk and is my writing mantra. I scribble rough drafts each Monday, and circle back around in the days to follow, asking What is this story about? Is it honest? Is it brave? Am I writing kindly? Will my small readership sense that I deeply understand that one common ache?
Come Thursday morning, my piece looks nothing like Monday’s efforts.
I cannot tell you how many stories I have tossed. Some because they were flimsy, weak, anything but courageous, missing the mark completely. Others have been true, courageous, and rather unkind. (As a writer, anytime I feel a glowing: That’s what you get, Charlie. Your bad behavior is your problem, and I am as free as a bird to write about every wicked detail, I reckon that I am on thin ice. It is never charitable to parade these things for the world to see, triumphing through payback.)
On the other hand, if handled carefully and graciously, boldness in truth-telling is vital. There are no stories without a rub: sin, with its mighty ripple impacts more than the perpetrator probably considered. Writing has the power to changes lives, for the better or the worse, and I know this since my own life has been changed and shaped by the writings of others, many times over.
Do you recall Jesus writing in the ground? The dirt might have been soft, but the truth of his words carried power and great conviction. Whatever those words he carved in the earth might have said, they certainly held sway. May our words do likewise.
The desire to write, in itself, is a gift, a holy invitation to be stewarded. I have yet to meet one person who randomly awoke one morning burning to write. It is more of a steady simmering. Life has to happen, first. Then, as days pass and pressures mount, a writer can use the hardships to think seriously, shaping ideas and illuminating the page with truth and beauty. Take whatever it is that you know, that one fire flickering, and do the work.
Of everything that I have penned, there have been only a couple of pieces that have felt effortless. Everything else has been a labor of love plus time plus grit, and self-editing times a gazillion. I am rather fond of authors confessing these things, acknowledging the hard crevices, as it invites and warms the rest of us over a universal campfire fellowship, a continual effort to build stories that serve readers. It is a passion both hard won and exhilarating.
I cheer you to set aside a time and a space to work, laying borders with the strictest of personal deadlines. As Gustave Flaubert once said: Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.
If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit dwells within you. Allow him to guide your writing. Stay tethered to your Bible reading and meditation, living moment by moment under the living, active Word of God.
At the end of the day, your writing is from God and for him.
Good reader, have courage and be kind. And if you are a writer, please write.